A Knight’s Tale (100: Commuting)

The move to Newark heralded nineteen years commuting to Kings Cross in London. Lindum House cost just £10,000 more than we obtained for our semi-detached home in Furzedown, so I increased my mortgage by that figure.

This was very risky because I had only been freelance for a year and had no clients in Nottinghamshire or Lincolnshire. I calculated that, because long term commuting was priced at a lower rate than shorter distances, I could just afford the annual season ticket to London. That covered 120 miles.

The following year British Rail, as it then was, decided to increase the long distance rates by 5% per annum for five years. The season ticket became unaffordable, so I stayed at home on Fridays as I built up a small amount of local work, and bought daily return tickets. At the same time interest rates went through the roof and mortgage repayments soared.

On my first day of travelling by the Intercity train it broke down in the evening and we arrived home four hours late.

A swan had been caught in the braking system which could not be freed. It was necessary to wait for a replacement engine.

As I walked into the house after midnight I thought “what have I done?”

Fortunately there was nothing so disastrous again and I settled into a travelling community.

One activity was the solving of The Times crossword which led to the creation of Mordred, about which there will be more to come. Unfortunately my fellow travellers got the erroneous impression that I knew everything.

There was to be an NSPCC fundraising quiz night in Grantham at which more than 30 teams competed. Two of these were from our commuter crowd who vied for my company. The team who lost that honour won the competition while mine came second. This was quite salutary.


  1. It’s something how unforeseen things can unravel our plans. I had plans to buy a home here, but prices doubled due to Covid. I can’t afford to move now, and will must make do.

  2. I agree, any increases on an already thin budget presents difficulties. I am glad all worked out in the end.

    We seem to be all curious about Mordred. 🙂

  3. I thought that the working from home caused by the pandemic might have been encouraged more, given the savings it must have made to many people’s travelling costs.

  4. Ay ay ay. Lots to worry about, but as is most often the case it all came out in the end. I laughed at your “unfortunately” in the line about admiration from your fellow passengers.

  5. I commuted from Ballarat to Melbourne for about five years. And there was a cryptic crossword group on the train. I spent most of my time correcting essays and preparing lessons.So I never did much schoolwork at home.

  6. Aw, the poor swan. 🙁
    But glad you found your travel rhythm and it all worked out on your commutes. Crossword puzzles are the perfect way to pass the time. (Where someone else is doing the driving. 😉 )
    I look forward to hearing more about Mordred (a couple of things come to my mind) and your fellow passengers (I bet some of them were interesting! 😮 ) 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  7. It’s so sad about the swan. Wha a terrible first day event! But I’m glad it didn’t happen again and that things worked out.

  8. That was one heck of a commute. But at least you turned it into a positive.
    My nephew has just moved into his first home i.e. mortgage. It’s huge even though the house is definitely a fixer-upperer! Luckily he is a qualified carpenter. We celebrated their inclusion into the deep in debt club last weekend.

  9. For five years (1990-95) I commuted daily by car from Rugby in Warwickshire to Southend in Essex. I convinced myself that 3 hours in a car was quality time. It wasn’t of course, it was wasted. I commute to work again now, bedroom to kitchen to garden shed, it is called retirement and the best job that I ever had.

  10. Oh my, I had not realised that you were so stretched during the early years of your self employment. Thank goodness you made it through it all.

  11. That’s some dedication, commuting from Newark to London. I feel sorry for the swan – what a nasty end. On the other hand, my half hour delay on Wednesday evening is nothing compared to the fours you endured.

Leave a Reply